What qualifies as an epic goal? Is it the one that places opposing teams at an impasse, the one that puts one team over the other, or the one that wins the game? For some people the epic goal does not have to be any of these, it just has to be that one shot that will be remembered forever, that one goal that people will talk about for generations to come.
Whether it’s an equalizer, tiebreaker or buzzer-beater, it’s that one goal or shot that will be immortalized forever on video and in discussions by the water cooler at the workplace or over drinks in the sports bar.
Here are some of those epic goals that will be remembered and talked about for years to come.
10. Goalie Scores
In football it’s not usually the goalie who scores, but when Bolton played Everton in the English Premiere League in January 2012 that’s exactly what happened. The ball had come to the Everton side penalty box and Everton goalie Tim Howard was just giving it a friendly boot back into the middle of the pitch when the wind picked up. The ball picked up speed, bounced once in the middle of bewildered players before sailing past Bolton goalie Adam Bogden for a goal. The crowd went wild. However, Bolton would later win the match 2-1.
9. The Immaculate Reception
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dec. 23, 1972. It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Oakland Raiders at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The play is on and the ball is sailing toward Steelers halfback John Fuqua. Jack Tatum of the Raiders hits him just as the ball arrives and knocks him to the ground. The ball goes backward and into the hands of Harris who had run downfield to assist his teammates. Harris secures the ball and runs for the end zone. He races past Raiders linebacker Gerald Irons and fights off defensive back Jimmy Warren before making it to the end zone and securing a Steelers victory 13-7. The play has been called the “Immaculate Reception”. It would later fuel the bitter rivalry between Pittsburgh and Oakland that was to get more physical with every game they played against each other.
8. Second Overtime Three-Pointer
March 9, 2009, Miami Heat is hosting the Chicago Bulls at home. They tied in the main game, they tied in the overtime, now they are tied in the second overtime at 127-127 with only seconds to spare, and no one wants another draw. The Bulls have the ball and John Salmons goes for the kill when Heat Dwyane Wade sneaks up and steals the ball. He sprints for the basket, just as he is about to be overtaken he goes for a three-pointer on one leg and sinks it in. The crowd erupts into celebrations as Wade jumps up on the referee’s table and shoots both arms into the air.
7. “The Goal”
Fancy as it was, this hockey move was not given a name and is only called “the goal”. Maybe it’s for the awesomeness that everyone is just expected to remember it as “the goal.” It was Jan. 16, 2006 and the match was between The Washington Capitals and the Phoenix Coyotes. Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals was powering toward the net, puck at the end of his stick when he is tackled. Ovechkin loses his balance, hits the ice on his back, yet somehow manages to turn and shoot the puck into the net. Even Coyotes coach and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said “that was pretty sweet.”
6. Magic Johnson’s Skyhook
They didn’t call him Magic for nothing. It was Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals and Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the Lakers was struggling with the rest of his team to close the gap between them and the Boston Celtics who had homecourt advantage. What a small gap it was, the Celtics were leading 106-104. The time left was 23 seconds. Magic made his play but was harried by Kevin McHale and with four seconds left, decided to loft the ball in an overhead arc to the basket. The ball sailed just above the fingers of McHale and his teammate Robert Parish before sinking into the basket, bringing them to the lead 107-106 with only two seconds left. The Celtics failed in their final play and the victory gave the Lakers a commanding lead of 3-1 over the Celtics. They would also later win the series 4-2.
5. Bend it like Beckham
English footballer David Beckham was remembered for many bad things, but he is also fondly remember for taking England to the 2002 World Cup after nailing the free kick against Greece during the qualifier. England was trailing Greece 2-1 and would have to face the Ukraine in a playoff if it lost. Just seconds from the end of the game England wins a free kick and Beckham steps up. With the crowd nervously fidgeting, Beckham fires one of his famous bend kicks, angling it just to the left – to sail over the head of the Greek goalie and into the net. There have been moments when Beckham lost it for England, but his fans prefer to remember when he won it for them.
Chances are you wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t see it. Week 16 of the 2011 season, Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Bengal Jerome Simpson has the ball and is running toward the end zone but Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is already on the intercept course, shoulder ready. What does Simpson do? He times it and does a wicked front flip, clearing over an astonished Washington before planting both feet in the end zone. His move was voted as #1 in that year’s top 10 plays and also one of the best moves in the decade.
3. 1998 NBA Finals
It was Game 6 and the Chicago Bulls wanted to seal the deal against Utah Jazz. Scottie Pippen bowed out earlier in the game due to his back injury and scored only eight points so it was up to Michael Jordan to carry the team to victory. Fast forward to the last minute of the game. John Stockton scores a three-pointer to put Jazz ahead 86-83 with 41.9 seconds left. Jordan brings it to 86-85 with a couple of lay-ups. When Stockton passes the ball to teammate Karl Malone, Jordan makes a successful steal and drives through Byron Russell to hit a 20-footer from inside three-point zone, placing the Bulls in the lead at 87-86 with 5.2 second left in the game. After a time-out Stockton fails with his three-pointer attempt, and the Bulls win their sixth NBA title in eight years.
1. & 2. 1986 FIFA Word Cup Quarter finals and The Hand of God
These two goals were scored in the same football game, by the same man. It cannot get any more epic than that. In June 22, 1986 in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City it was England vs. Argentina for the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Aside from being rivals, the last time so many English met so many Argentineans in the field was during the Falklands War four years earlier, so aside from rivalry there was a certain tension in the air.
Fifty-four minutes into the game Argentina’s star player Diego Maradona took the ball past English defenders Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, Terry Fenwick and goalkeeper Peter Shilton to score the winning goal. It was described as an excellent display of football footwork and was voted one of the best moves in the game’s history. Now for number one. Fifty-one minutes into the game, Maradona punches the ball into the goal. English players claimed to have seen it, those in the audience claim to have seen it but the Tunisian referee didn’t and that made all the difference.
He would later admit he punched the ball into the goal. “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them, ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it,” he would later say. He also said the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” And from then on the goal became famously and infamously known as “The Hand of God” goal.
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